Each year in the United States, more than a quarter of a million people undergo weight loss surgery to shed serious pounds and improve their health. As they declare success in this area — weight loss — they’re often dealing with some post-surgical gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) .
If this sounds familiar, there are ways in which you can manage this common side effect.
When our team here at Advanced Surgeons performs bariatric surgery, we make changes to your digestive tract that can sometimes lead to GERD. For example, up to 40% of people develop post-surgical GERD after a sleeve gastrectomy, which is the most popular weight loss surgery.
If GERD has become part of your post weight loss surgery experience, the good news is that there are ways to manage this condition. To that end, we cover five tips to keep GERD at bay.
Eat smaller meals throughout the day
An effective way to control GERD is to stick to smaller, more frequent, meals throughout your day. This dietary recommendation is one that we often make after weight loss surgery in any case, and it should help to control GERD.
Smaller meals prevent sudden spikes in stomach acids. And eating in a way that’s more like grazing or snacking, rather than confining your eating to three larger meals, keeps your stomach acids constant.
Don’t eat close to bedtime
When you have GERD, the problem stems from a weak sphincter between your stomach and your throat. When you lie down, contents from your stomach press up against this weak spot and back up into your esophagus more easily than when you’re standing up.
So try to eat when you know you’ll be on your feet for a little while so gravity can help keep your stomach acids down in your stomach while you digest.
Elevate at night
Even if you don’t eat close to bedtime, GERD can plague you throughout the night. As we mentioned above, gravity can be your friend, so we suggest that you sleep with your head and chest slightly elevated to keep stomach acids down.
One way to do this is to buy a wedge pillow that you place under your regular pillow.
Figure out your triggers
There are certain foods and drinks that might trigger your GERD, so figuring those out is important. Some of the more common culprits include carbonated beverages, caffeine, spicy foods, and chocolate, though you may have your own.
Pay attention to the foods you eat that, more often than not, lead to GERD, and avoid those foods in the future.
The effects of stress extend to your gastrointestinal system, so we urge you to find ways to relax and de-stress. Not to mention, stress can also lead to poor eating habits.
To better manage GERD and improve your overall wellness, go for a walk in nature with a friend or sit down with a good book — whatever works to get your stress levels down.
With a little effort, you can avoid post-surgical issues like GERD and get back to enjoying your weight loss journey.
If you have more questions about post-surgical GERD, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our offices in Valhalla, Carmel, or Poughkeepsie, New York, to schedule an appointment.